Barça look to up the pressure
BARCELONA’S attacking quality was demonstrated as they dominated the short list for the World Player of the Year Award but despite the ominous task facing opponents Real Sociedad this weekend, midfielder Xabi Prieto believes his side can spring an upset.
The leaders had Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez in the three-man list with the winner announced next month and it was yet a further indication of the strength of the Barça side, who had eight players in the Spain squad that won the World Cup.
They asserted themselves on this year’s title race with a 50 destruction of Real Madrid in their last home match which put them top of the table but Real Sociedad, who are riding high in sixth place, are focusing on the way Hercules travelled to the Nou Camp and came away with a victory earlier in the season.
“They not only have a great forward line but also the best defence in the league and this is going to be a very tough game particularly as Barça are fighting for the title,” said Pietro who has been in a rich vein of form. “It won’t be a game for us to enjoy but where we will have to work hard and make them suffer”.
“We know that they are not unbeatable and so that also gives us belief and confidence.”
Real Madrid responded to their mauling by Barca with a 20 win over Valencia but with the team still smarting they will look to take out their frustration on bottom side Zaragoza.
Real may will have been boosted by the timely for m show by striker Karim Benzema who scored a hat-trick against Auxerre in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The France striker’s best performance since his € 35 million transfer from Lyon last summer has come with regular striker Gonzalo Higuain out injured until January.
“I know everyone is talking about me and I answered on the field,” Benzema said. “It was my best night with Real Madrid. I feel important.”
Villarreal are trying to remain in the title chase but with far more limited resources it is an uphill battle and they are seven points adrift of Barcelona with a match against Getafe.
Villareal defender Carlos Marchena said: “We are always looking upwards but obviously Barca and Madrid are very strong and for us to compete we have to be at our best the whole time.”
Espanyol, sitting pretty in a Champions League position, face a big test away to Athletic Bilbao in front of their intimidating fans. – Sapa-AFP